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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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September 2016
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Kindle Fire Sales May Suffer Thanks to Nexus 7

We don’t have any real way of obtaining solid sales numbers from Amazon with regard to the Kindle line.  They simply don’t choose to make that information public.  Still, analysts are generally able to make decent guesses on how the devices are doing and where they stand with regard to the competition.  According to Cowen analyst Kevin Kopelman, things are not looking up.

Kopelman, who had previously estimated that sales of the Kindle Fire tablet in 2012 would hit approximately 14 million units, has lowered his estimates to 12 million.  He calls his previous numbers “unrealistic” in the wake of Google’s strong competition.  Along with this revision, the Cowen analyst has revised his expected growth of the eReader side of the Kindle line from 30% to 3%.  Factors such as Amazon’s focus on pushing the Kindle Fire to the exclusion of everything else and the long wait in getting a front-lit eReader to customers are cited as important considerations.

This may change depending on consumer reactions to the anticipated Kindle Fire update, of course.  We don’t have any real information yet and it has to be assumed that Kopelman is similarly in the dark regarding the specifics of the new design.  This didn’t stop him from mentioning the rumored iPad Mini in his analysis as a source of competition, but even imaginary Apple products often require special treatment at the moment.

The idea that the Kindle Fire will be completely wiped out by its Nexus 7 competition is far fetched at best.  If Amazon never released a hardware update to the current model, that might be possible.  As it stands, however, there is every reason to believe that significantly more is being done to make owning the next generation of Kindle Fire even better than owning the current one.

Add into that the benefits of the tablet’s integration with Amazon services and you have a recipe for ongoing success.  To be fair, Kopelman’s report doesn’t disagree with this.  He simply indicates that another 7” Android tablet is taking up consumer attention.  That is going to happen.  Will Amazon always be the best selling brand in small tablet design?  Probably not, given their interest in creating devices for fairly narrow use cases.

Take this for what it is.  Amazon will still be doing just fine with their tablet sales, they just finally have some impressive competition at the same price point.  The Nexus 7 could be the Kindle Fire’s Nook.  Competition always brings out the best in situations like this.  Short of somebody else coming in and completely destroying the budget tablet market, which is unlikely in the case of either Apple or Microsoft despite the impending release of Windows 8, Amazon is going to be invested in things here for the indefinite future.

That means more Kindle Fire sales, more features, and more reasons for customers to be interested.  This is a company known for its customer satisfaction, which makes it especially unlikely that they’ll drop the ball on a major product push like this.

Android 4.1 Jelly Bean Brought To the Kindle Fire

As many people expected, the Google Nexus 7 tablet is a product developed specifically to knock Amazon off of the top of the Android charts.  Hardware-wise, it is certainly more powerful.  Whether this is enough to actually sway users is still in question, however, since the popularity of the Kindle Fire has never been based on its performance alone.  The software is another story.

By releasing the Nexus 7 with the newest version of Android (4.1 Jelly Bean) Google packed in some major advantages that Amazon never even had the option of putting in the Kindle Fire in the first place.  It was a smart decision, given reviews, and things are looking up for Google at the moment.  Kindle Fire owners might still feel a bit left out, however.

That is where XDA comes in.  It is the good people over on the XDA Developers forums who we have to thank for any number of Android hacks, including the ability to gain root access on the Kindle Fire.  Their most recent Kindle-related development is a custom ROM for installing Jelly Bean on the Kindle Fire.

Now, Amazon has not exactly set any records for taking security on their device seriously.  The last time an update went so far as to disable the security hole by which people were rooting their tablets, another option was available immediately.  If I recall correctly, the new rooting method might have been released before the update was ever rolled out thanks to somebody getting their hands on it a couple days early.  As such, it seems unlikely that Amazon will be terribly worried about the impact of customer device customizations on their bottom line.

The existing Android 4.1 ROM for the Kindle Fire is still being worked on.  It is fairly simple to install using the instructions provided over at XDA, but not everything is enabled just yet.  There is a bit of a problem with the wifi connectivity, though that is more an inconvenience than anything and fixes can be found scattered around, and various minor complaints have come up with certain apps in cases where this ROM is installed on top of an existing custom ROM.

Should you decide that you want to try all the newest features from Google, look this option up.  Keep in mind, however, that doing so will void your warranty.  It is also possible that you can render your device unusable if you botch the installation.  These are standard cautions that anybody attempting this process should be aware of.

Amazon has done a great job with developing a fork of Android 2.3 specifically for the Kindle Fire.  Users seem to really like it and the integration with Amazon services is impressively smooth.  Chances are good that the new Kindle Fire 2 will ship with an even more advanced build that offers far more features.  None of that means that the desire to try the unlocked, open version of Android is unusual or problematic.  If you do it right, follow all the instructions, and exercise caution then a completely different experience is available to try.

Google Unveils Nexus 7 Anti-Kindle

Amazon made a pretty huge impression on the Android tablet market when they announced the Kindle Fire.  Competitors had to either drop their prices or drop out of the competition.  Barely functional budget tablets were rushed out to compete unsuccessfully against the biggest thing Android had seen.  Worst of all, Google was completely cut out of the fun by a carefully customized OS fork that locked Kindle Fire users into the Amazon ecosystem and out of Google’s Android Marketplace.

Rumors started to surface almost immediately that Google had a tablet of their own on the way that would blow the Kindle Fire away.  Unfortunately, the complications resulting from the need to keep the price at $199 or below meant that the project was delayed for a while.  Finally, after months of waiting and hearing leaked details about the worst kept secret in Google’s arsenal, we have the big reveal.

Here’s the break-down on the Nexus 7 as per Google’s I/O Conference reveal:

  • Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean
  • 7” 1280 x 800 HD Display
  • Backlit IPS Display
  • Scratch-resistant Corning Glass
  • 1.2MP front-facing Camera
  • Microphone
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 1GB RAM
  • Quad-core Tegra 3 processor
  • Up to 8 Hours of battery life
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • NFC (Android Beam)
  • GPS
  • Accelerometer
  • Magnetometer
  • Gyroscope
  • Weighs 340g
  • Measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm

Basically we’re looking at a tablet that is more than a match for the Kindle Fire in terms of hardware.  It is faster, has more memory, can do things like video chat, has an HD display, and so on.  For the same price as the Kindle Fire, you get a huge upgrade.  Not only that, it looks great too.  While the base model will have 8GB of storage and cost $199, there is even a 16GB edition available for $249. Amazon couldn’t have asked for a worse comparison, in other words.

Normally this would be where I once again talk about Amazon having the advantage thanks to their integration with their internal Appstore for Android and other assorted forms of digital media.  In this case, Google knows what they are doing and seems to have developed a similar level of access to their various media options through the Google Play store.  Not many companies could compete near Amazon’s level in this respect, but Google is definitely one of them.

The big hope that Amazon has to turn this around will obviously be the upcoming Kindle Fire 2.  This tablet, expected to be announced as early as the end of July, will bring additional power and improved resolution to the Fire.  We don’t know much more than that, but some people are even predicting similar camera and mic options.  The existing Kindle Fire will then supposedly drop to $149.  While it would remain less useful than the Nexus 7 in that case, reducing the price by another 25% would almost certainly be enough to keep things competitive.

For now, Google’s Nexus 7 is on top.  It will be shipping in 2-3 weeks, according to the preorder page, and at the moment comes with $25 in store credit on Google Play.  Whether it can gain enough of a following to offset the likely surge of interest in the new Kindle Fire 2 following only a month or so behind will be interesting to discover.